Billion-dollar monetization titan Electronic Arts is now re-embracing single player as it sets up profitable online tentpoles.
by Derek Strickland, Tweak Town
Following the breakout success of games like Jedi: Fallen Order, and with established online anchors like FIFA, Madden, Apex, and Battlefield established, Electronic Arts now seems more open to single player games. While the publisher’s billion-dollar live games offerings aren’t going anywhere, EA is now diversifying its portfolio across a spectrum of experiences. Live services no longer seem to be required for all of its games.
The publisher has a number of single player-driven games currently in development, including a Dead Space remake. This one is actually a big example of EA’s turnaround. EA Motive, the team behind the Dead Space remake, says they want to make a game so immersive that players will complete it in one sitting. EA typically never wants gamers to complete its games this fast–EA’s $7-billion business is centered around never-ending play, engagement, and player retention.
EA makes most of its yearly revenues from monetized sports juggernauts like FIFA and Madden NFL, but the publisher is starting to shift back towards single player experiences.
EA’s new change of heart was originally sparked by Jedi: Fallen Order’s success, and its tumultuous Star Wars games release slate is the clearest example of this business shift.
Back in 2020, we noted that Respawn’s Star Wars game ultimately changed how EA will make future Star Wars projects. Jedi: Fallen Order is now the fastest-selling Star Wars game of all time.
Another convincing point was Battlefront II’s disastrous loot box controversy, which led to the game being essentially re-built on a monetization level.
Sadly this paradigm shift wasn’t enough to save other Star Wars projects. EA has cancelled a number of Star Wars games before Jedi: Fallen Order, namely Visceral Games’ ambitious Project Ragtag, a perspective-shifting bounty hunter game described as Uncharted meets Star Wars.
EA originally announced a Star Wars game pipeline back in 2016, but has cancelled three different Star Wars projects over the last five years including Project Ragtag, and two games from EA Vancouver–planet-hopping Project Orca and Battlefront spin-off Project Viking.
EA Motive’s Star Wars Squadrons was also a huge departure. It has online multiplayer but no monetization. This is a major turning point for EA, a company that again has typically tried to bake in monetization into all of its games.
Lucasfilm has confirmed that EA has multiple new Star Wars projects in development. One of them is JFO2, and another is expected to be a new Battlefront title.
Now Respawn is currently developing Jedi: Fallen Order 2, and EA confirms it will reveal new games sometime in 2022.
Another example of a big EA single player game on the horizon is Dragon Age 4.
BioWare’s new Dragon Age has been rebooted twice now; first it was an online experienced codenamed Project Morrison, and now it’s become a single player-only RPG. Both of BioWare’s previous mainline games, Dragon Age Inquisition and Mass Effect Andromeda, both had monetized live services.
For example, DICE’s new Battlefield 2042 is now an online-only monetized live service game, and will join other mTX titans like Madden NFL, FIFA, and EA’s newest billion-dollar franchise Apex Legends. This level of deeper online integration means EA is now more free to delve back into single player games.